RECIPE | My AVOCADO Smash Brunch Bowl


I enjoy preparing and especially enjoying Mexican-inspired dishes. This fresh and delicious Avocado Smash Bowl was a bright take on brunch fare or a remixed salad! I first had an interpretation of this dish in my work cafeteria. While rushing out of the house one morning, I left my lunch behind. So, I had to venture to our company cafeteria around noon. I noticed one of the cafeteria employees at a new station that offered made-to-order brunch items. I was intrigued! I chose a rendition of this bowl and enjoyed it so much - I was hooked. So hooked that I had to try my own version. All of the ingredients were real, accessible, and easy to assemble in under 20 minutes!

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How I made it...


Ingredients
- Avocado
- Fresh Spinach
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Tortillas
- Feta Cheese
- Eggs
- Butter
- Lemon
- Black Pepper
- Salt
- Optional: Vinegarette, Red Pepper Flakes

Helpful Cooking Tools

Instructions

Pan-Seared Tomatoes: Heat a Cast Iron Skillet to medium heat. Spray the pan with oil. Once hot, place half-sliced cherry tomatoes into the pan and cook until tender. Feel free to add salt and pepper to taste.

Tortillas: Heat a Cast Iron Skillet on low heat. Spray the pan with oil. Once hot, place the full tortilla into the bottom of the pan. Let set for 20 seconds, then flip and let cook for another 20 seconds. Remove from the pan and once slightly cooled, cut into triangles. You can also cut into triangles ahead of cooking - up to you!

Avocado Smash: Cut an avocado in half and discard the pit. Using the tip of a paring knife, score the avocado flesh into medium squares. Use a large spoon to scoop out the cubes into a bowl. Top the Avocado with fresh or dry herbs and seasonings. Squeeze a quarter of a lemon. Mash the mixture together until you reach the desired consistency.

Over Easy Eggs: Crack 2 large eggs into a small bowl. Heat a nonstick skillet over low heat and add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter. When the butter stops foaming, pour the eggs into the pan. Season with 1 pinch of salt and 1 grind of black pepper and cook, still over low heat, for 1 to 11/2 minutes. Check the whites for opaqueness; when they are set, flip the eggs. As the eggs turn, try to bring the pan up to meet them. Return the pan to the heat and slowly count to 10. Re-flip the eggs to their original side. (This time it won't be so tricky.) Slide onto a warmed plate and serve immediately with toast for wiping up all the goodness. 

Place fresh greens of your choice in a large bowl. Drizzle the greens with a vinaigrette or lemon juice/oil dressing. Assemble the over-easy Eggs, smashed Avocado, and seared Tomatoes atop the greens. Sprinkle with Feta crumbles. Add Tortilla slices for garnish/enjoyment. 

Recipe Substitutions and Tips
  1. Take it easy on mashing up those avocados; leave a few chunks for texture.
  2. Want a perfect fried egg? Start by cracking them into a cup or bowl first, then slowly add to a heated and buttered pan. This step eliminates shell pieces being included in your egg and helps maintain the shape of it. Oh, most important - it won't break your yolk!
  3. Add a hash underneath. Really want to take this brunch dish up a notch? Fry or bake some potatoes to add to the bowl.

Try it out and let me know what you think!



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(Limited Time Offers) | FREE Workouts, Online College Courses, Wellness Programs during COVID-19 Pandemic

If you're like me, you've been adhering to CDC guidelines or your state's mandates by embracing being #AloneTogether, during this unprecedented Coronavirus pandemic. Outside of a few strategically-timed trips to the grocery store and strolls around my neighborhood. I recently shared with my Instagram pals that as an introvert/recluse, I was truly built for this! While it's been a very interesting and uncertain time, it's on each of us to stop/slow the disease by staying safe and staying at home. I digress...

Needless to say, and consistent with all the hilarious memes and posts I've seen, many of us in the locked-down community have a lot more time on our hands. Personally, I'm looking at this as an opportunity to improve some things in my life, with those extra minutes. I'm not talking about changing the world per se, but where it is within my power to make self-improvements or start planning for a future after this is all said and done.

One thing that has really taken me by pleasant surprise throughout all of this is how many major corporations and brands are making it easier for those who now have little-to-no income or those of us who have to rethink some of our expenses and tighten up budgets - to benefit from their services. It's a genius marketing strategy and really shows you another side to "big business." Check out a few of the below, FREE offerings that I came across recently:



I was introduced to the Hiitide wellness app platform during a 2019 weight loss challenge led by one of my favorite diet authors (Dr. Ian Smith, who is releasing a book tomorrow, that I'll most certainly be reviewing!). I received an email from them and was excited to take them up on their challenge to improve by at least 1% during the program and this pandemic. Details:

In the wake of the current quarantine, we are all experiencing a new way of life. From this experience, Hiitide has created a FREE, STRONGER TOGETHER program to help keep things exciting and you making progress toward your goals. We wanted to provide more structure and accountability to ensure we're all making the most of this time. In this FREE 6-week program, you'll have access to:

1. Progressive at-home with min equipment
2. Basic level, 60-minute yoga classes with our favorite instructors :)
3. Mobility sessions to keep your joints healthy during this stationary period
4. Breathwork and meditation for daily stress relief
5. Journal prompts to "check-in with yourself and loved ones."
6. Healthy, quarantine-friendly low-calorie recipes
7. TEDtalks or podcasts that will introduce new perspectives
8. A private community of individuals to experience it with…



Full disclosure, I first went to PF's website to see how I could cancel or freeze my "Black Card" membership since all of their locations are temporarily closed. I mean, it's only $20 a month - but, hey, anything I can keep in my bank account, the better. A quick search revealed that they had preemptively frozen all membership fees for current members. Even better, they were advertising free, no equipment needed at-home workouts/ins for both members and non-members on their Facebook page. You can catch them live, or watch replays. Some workouts are advanced, while others are low-impact, giving much-needed variety to viewers. Get moving with PF trainers and surprise celebrity guests for a 20 minute or less workout to relieve stress and stay active!


Through July 2020

If your university, school, or workplace education program has been affected by COVID-19, Sophia is here to help. Or, if you have some free time and just want to brush up on college learning in the new decade - here's your chance! Sophia is offering free access to ACE (American Council on Education) - recommended courses for college credit until July 31, 2020. The courses range in curriculums from Business, Humanities, English, Communications, Math, and even Science. These self-paced courses are accepted for credit by many institutions and provide a fresh and fun learning environment. Oh, and all learning materials are included; it's web-based, so no books or book fees.


Through April 2020

If you're looking to take up a new hobby (or refine an old one) right now, Nikon has you covered. The camera company is offering online photography classes for free throughout the rest of April, so your Instagram game is about to get way more impressive. The online courses usually range from $15 to $50 per class, but Nikon made them free to encourage everyone to "make the most of our times at home." All you have to do to get started is sign up with your first name, last name, an email, and your country. Then, you'll have access to stream each of the 10 available classes for free.


I hope these are helpful! I'll update as I find more opportunities to learn and grow, while staying at home! :)


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Goodr CEO Jasmine Crowe - What we're getting wrong in the fight to end hunger (Video)

Today is International Women's Day, a day in which we recognize women that have and continue to make a positive impact on our societies. There are so many to choose from! You know, because women ROCK! But today, I wanted to spotlight a genius CEO that aims to solve two pressing issues; food waste and hunger.

Hunger was not an issue of scarcity, but rather a matter of logistics.   

Did you know that in the U.S., we collectively waste over 72 BILLION pounds of edible food annually? While 42 Millon Americans remain food insecure or lack access to basic nutritional needs. Well, Jasmine Crowe, an Atlanta-based social enterprise entrepreneur, had an idea to leverage technology and an impressive operations model to help restaurants and food vendors take advantage of underused charitable tax incentives. All the while reducing waste (see 72 BILLION pounds stat above) and getting real meals into the hands and onto the tables of families that need it most. A food rescue app that operates in real-time, Goodr uses the power of a shared economy to help feed some of Atlanta's hungriest communities.

According to their website: The Goodr model aims to provide a triple-win solution by improving an organization's bottom line through charitable tax donations, reducing its greenhouse emissions from landÔ¨Ālls, and getting its edible surplus food to local communities in need.

When I heard about this company, I was just so baffled - in a good way. Why didn't anyone think of this sooner? With advances in technology and information seemingly at our fingertips at all times - this could only be a roadmap to solving so many more of the challenges Americans (and the world) face.

Some of my best bonding moments and new friendships were forged volunteering at food banks, pantries, and shelters. It is still needed! I just wanted to shed some light on how a woman took those experiences and leveled up to make it profitable (read: more enticing) for businesses with the resources to participate. Now whether you believe in green sustainability or not - there's no question that managing our natural and produced resources remains a viable gesture that can and will go a long way. Kudos, Jasmine!
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RECIPE | Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes with Stonewall Kitchen Lemon Herb Aioli


It is officially Lenten season, and you can't look too far without seeing a fish or seafood special on menus to accommodate customers who observe it. Now, before you go out and indulge in a BOGO Filet-o-Fish deal, I'd definitely suggest you try this flavorful and delicious Crab Cake recipe.

I would be remiss if I didn't credit the gentleman who shared this recipe with me shortly before his retirement from our company - after 40 years! Farmer Dennis, affectionately nicknamed "Dennis the Menace." He is hilarious, tough, boisterous, the opposite of politically-correct, sometimes cantankerous, and lovable all at the same time! A bit crunchy on the outside, but soft on the inside... just like this dish!

How I made it...

Ingredients:

- 1 Pound Lump Crab Meat
- 1 Large Egg
- 1 Tablespoon of Mayonaise
- 1 Tablespoon of Parsley
- 1 Teaspoon of Mustard
- Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
- Pinch of White Pepper
- Pinch of Fresh Ground Black Paper
- 4 Drops of Hot Sauce
- 1/4 Teaspoon of Sea Salt
- 5 Water Crackers
- 1/4 Cup of Melted Unsalted Butter
- Lemon Juice
- Stonewall Kitchen Lemon Herb Aioli

A Few Helpful Cooking Tools:

- Food Prep Gloves - $9.88
- OXO Good Grips Fish Turner Spatula - $13.99
- Wooden Bamoo Utensil Set - $10.69

Instructions:

  1. With a wooden spoon, fold in the following items: Egg, Mayonaise, Parsley, Mustard, Black, White, and Cayenne Pepper, Hot Sauce, Sea Salt, and Water Crackers. 
  2. Add in the Jumbo Lump Crab and mix thoroughly.
  3. Once all of the ingredients are combined, roll the mixture into balls (golf ball-sized) and gently flatten to shape into even cakes. 
  4. In a 12" skillet, on medium-high heat melt butter to coat the pan. 
  5. Place the Crab Cakes in the skillet and cook each side until brown (about 3-4 minutes for each side). Repeat for the remaining Crab Cakes.
  6. Pair with a green vegetable, drizzle with Lemon juice and garnish with Stonewall Kitchen's Lemon Herb Aioli (SO GOOD!)

Recipe Substitutions and Tips

- Save calories, swap Butter with Canola or other Low/No-Calorie Spray
- Save coins, try Canned Jumbo Lump Crab Meat over fresh

Enjoy!

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RECIPE | My Panera-Inspired Baja Warm Grain Bowl


There is a Panera less than a half-mile away from my home. Needless to say, I'm a regular. Usually, in the Fall/Winter months, I opt for the White Cheddar Grilled Cheese and Tomato soup - YUM! But, last week, I tried something different, and it was just as tasty.

Panera, known for its healthier take out food options, announced their new Warm Grain Bowls. These bowls come in two versions; Baja and Mediterranean. I tried the Baja (Californian-style), and it didn't disappoint! It was fulfilling and included some super nutritious and heart-healthy ingredients. With the new year, I'm challenging myself to make more of what I want at home. Luckily, I had most of the ingredients necessary and was able to further customize my very own homemade grain bowl!
How I made it...

Ingredients:
- Black and Brown Rice Mix
- Quinoa
- Vegetable Broth/Stock
- Avocado
- Black Beans
- Tomato
- Red Onion
- Plain Greek Yogurt
- Lime
- Sea Salt
- Black or White Pepper

Helpful Cooking Tools:

Instructions: In a medium pot, bring 1 and 1/2 cups of Vegetable Broth/Stock and 1 cup of Water to boil. Add 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil and 1 tablespoon of Sea Salt. Pour in 1 cup of Black and/or Brown rice mix and 1/4 cup of Quinoa and cover. Let the mixture cook (periodically stirring) until the desired grain texture is reached, then set it aside. Dice a small fresh Tomato and Red Onion and season with Pepper, Herbs, and drizzle with Lime Juice. Slice or dice an Avocado and set aside. Use 1/4-3 cup of canned Black Beans (rinsed) and set aside. Place the cooled (warmed) Rice/Quinoa mixture in a bowl. Place each fresh ingredient in sections atop the bowl. Top your dish with a dollop of Plain Greek Yogurt.


Recipe Substitutions and Tips:
- Plain Greek Yogurt -> Low Fat Sour Cream
- Black Beans -> Pinto or Kidney Beans
- Grains -> Any whole grain will do! I'll be trying this next time with Couscous, and you can even toss in some fresh Corn.

Enjoy!


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